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Dalton Mallery/ #loveofmylife


The snow fell overnight and a world laid beneath it, still and quiet. Ice on the edges of the

shore, the river churning. The Old Man had trudged his way up through the frost. He was used to

the cold; it didn't bother him after Hürtgen. He stayed there for a German winter and since then

never complained about the weather.

His boots crushed the snow into a compacted slick print. The impressions of his weight

pinning the snow to the wood of the bridge left a trail that could lead you back to his cabin,

which he was nursing as a thought. Hoping they would find his letter. With each step the Old

Man took, his feet felt the pressure and pangs of weight, more than he was used to. His belt

cinched a notch tighter as well, pressing his skin against his hip bones. He never gained weight

anywhere except his belly, but even then it wasn’t a massive orb like his old friends in town. All

they did was sit on the front deck and chime in with a few sentences once in a while through the

silence of the day. But something stirred the Old Man, he knew his birthday would be soon, and

he didn’t want to hear anything about it, he didn’t want to have any celebration whatsoever. He

didn’t even want to be awake for his birthday.

He would drink himself into oblivion to avoid hearing about it, if he had to and on his

trek on the bridge, the Old Man stopped in what his best guess would be the middle of it. He

stared at the shimmering water, god he missed Henry. Henry was his lover and his husband in

every sense of the word but in the eyes of the law, which they never paid no mind to.

Henry died a year ago today, and instead of finding someone new like he told the Old

Man, he sat alone in the cabin, drinking, going to see his old friends less and less as the days

waned on. They would come to visit, but he wouldn’t utter a word the entire time and they would

leave with a small message from their hearts and minds and let it linger in the Old Man’s head as he was alone, trapped in memory, trapped in the hollow idea of life and survival since Henry had died.

It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t and he decided the anniversary would be the day the Old Man

would fall into the river. He would weigh himself down with rocks. He fought with the idea

Henry gave him to not be afraid to live. He wasn’t that strong. So, stopping at the bridge, he took

a deep breath and slipped under the railing to stand on the four inch space of a ledge. His boots

kicked the undisturbed snow that descended to the rushing water and disappeared. That was

exactly what he wanted to happen.

The Old Man looked down at the water and stood up, his arms bracing the wooden beam

that served as a railing. He closed his eyes and let go. He forced his eyes closed through the

whole ordeal as he felt the water stab him all over. The shock of the cold was more than he

expected, but he held his arms around his chest and felt himself being pulled with the current as

he sank in the water, the rocks in his pocket weighing him down. The water around him muffled

everything into a dull hum of churning water. Finally he opened his eyes. The Old Man saw the

sky overhead wavering, the water as active as ever. Naturally the Old Man’s body was fighting

and resisting the submergence. Slowly he sensed that he was losing the fight and let go. The light above going with him.

Dalton Mallery has written and published two books in 2021, Dalton has been able to focus on and hone his skills as a writer. Echoes, his first short story collection, features eleven stories, a novella, and a one act play that encapsulates a theme of endurance over adversity. His second book, Dark Little Bishops, features fifteen short stories that show a darker side of our world, some of which are continuations from Echoes.

Keep your eye out for Dalton’s next book, his first novel, The Night He Smiled.


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